Name: Tanner Vallejo
School: Boise State
Position fit: 4-3 Will, 3-4 inside linebacker
Stats to know: Huge 2014 season with 59 total stops and just five missed tackles in 879 snaps, but struggled to stay healthy in 2015 and 2016, totaling just 73 stops and 28 missed tackles in 991 snaps.
What he does best:
- Has a subtle quickness and burst that helps him get around blockers on the edge to make tackles at the line of scrimmage.
- Moves well in space; looks comfortable in his drops and can transition forward, showing a good burst attacking to the line of scrimmage on underneath routes.
- Not afraid to get physical with blockers at the point of attack, use his hands to set and shed.
- Average yards per catch surrendered was under 6.0 in seven of nine games in which he was targeted; gave up just one grab over 20 yds (43 targets), none over 10 in all but two games played.
- Drew three holding penalties against Washington State by attacking blockers aggressively on the edge.
- Has the burst and agility to be effective on blitzes and stunts when rushing the passer.
- At 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds, he lacks the height and bulk consistent with his position at the next level and will need to add to his frame.
- 432nd in tackling efficiency in 2016 among all off-ball LBs.
- Attacks aggressively downhill to a fault; can deliver big hits in the backfield but will also overrun plays and take bad angles.
- Will get pre-occupied with taking on blockers on the edge and forego gap assignments.
- Tends to stop his feet on contact, which will cause him to slip off tackles at times.
- Has the athleticism to cover downfield but lacks experience, feel for man coverage.
Player comparison: Wesley Woodyard, Tennessee Titans
Woodyard has seen time both inside and out. He is a solid athlete with size limitations, but has in spurts throughout his career shown glimpses of ability versus both the run and pass.
Bottom line: Vallejo is a unique study, because his overall grade of 93.1 as a sophomore in 2014 was the second-highest among all FBS LBs, but injuries and missed tackles severely limited his production in 2015 and 2016. Boise State often treated him as a nickel back against three- and four-WR sets, which freed him up in terms of space, yet he saw limited action in man coverage. He has the competitiveness to take on blocks effectively despite his size, but tends to get absorbed and lose track of the ball, and his containment assignments. If he learns to consistently keep his feet when tackling (he deserves some benefit of the doubt for playing in seven more games after tearing ligaments in his wrist in Week 2 against Washington State this past season), he has a real shot at developing into a starter because his athleticism and instincts should translate on every down at the next level.